This is an adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s novel of the same name. The play focuses on Thomas and Vanda, as Vanda auditions for a role she shares a name with for playwright, Thomas. As the two of them read through the script, Thomas becomes seemingly mesmerized by Vanda’s looks and talent as she embodies everything that is the goddess, Venus.
The play is full of less-than-subtle S&M themes and practices, and is also incredibly feminist as it tackles the idea of this kind of relationship between a man and a woman. Vanda is unafraid of calling out Thomas on the sexist moments in his play, even when he gets mad and lashes out at her, she refuses to back down. At times he even gets her point and Thomas will be the one to back down. Thomas is not a meek man, he is passionate and determined, and Vanda is strong without filling the “bitch in heels” stereotype. She is not a dominatrix, yet she has full control over him by approximately the half-way mark. He is not a pushover, yet he kneels before her without so much as a second thought.
I have not yet read the novella, but in terms of the play alone, this is what a true erotic drama should look like. No one is abused. No one is harassed. At least not to the degree than stories like 50 Shades have made “normal” in the eyes of the public. For a play with not even a kiss in it, it is one of the most erotic stories I have ever come across.
Author: David Ives
Published: May 21st 2013
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Synopsis: A young playwright, Thomas, has written an adaptation of the 1870 novel Venus in Fur by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (after whom the term “masochism” was coined); the novel is the story of an obsessive adulterous relationship between a man and the mistress to whom he becomes enslaved. At the end of a long day in which the actresses Thomas auditions fail to impress him, in walks Vanda, very late and seemingly clueless, but she convinces him to give her a chance. As they perform scenes from Thomas’s play, and Vanda the actor and Vanda the character gradually take control of the audition, the lines between writer, actor, director, and character begin to blur. Vanda is acting . . . or perhaps she sees in Thomas a masochist, one who desires fantasy in “real life” while writing fantasies for a living.